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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 May 2003, 17:53 GMT 18:53 UK
Controversial clinic helps another suicide
John and Lesley Close
John Close and his sister Lesley
A terminally ill man from Milton Keynes has died at the controversial Swiss clinic which specialises in assisted suicides.

John Close, 54, of Willen, who had motor neurone disease, flew to Zurich at the weekend.

He died in the Dignitas Clinic at 1500 BST on Monday with his family at his bedside.

Deaths at the centre, which has been criticised for its methods, are being investigated by the public prosecutor's office Zurich.

Former musician Mr Close is the third person from the eastern region to die at the clinic.

Last month a couple from Bedfordshire made their final journey to the same clinic.

Farewell party

Mr Close planned his death months ago and on Saturday evening he held a farewell party for friends at a pub in Milton Keynes.

His sister Lesley said: "John decided in January that he would like to end his life at some point because he had MND and had an increasing sense of helplessness and dependence on other people to provide for his everyday needs.

"He talked about committing suicide by his own hand but was afraid of failing and waking up to find he was being stomach-pumped."

It was hard, very hard, but it was what John wanted
Sister Lesley Close
She and his other sister were holding Mr Close's hands as he died.

At the clinic, Mr Close himself pressed the plunger to inject the barbiturates which ended his life.

"We saw the whole procedure. A deep sleep became a very, very peaceful death. It was very beautiful."

She said the whole family had supported Mr Close absolutely in his decision.

"It was hard, very hard, but it was what John wanted. It is very difficult to be without him - I miss him already."

She defended Dignitas which she said was a marvellous organisation providing a much-needed service.

Swiss clinic investigated
26 May 03 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
No charges over assisted suicide
09 Apr 03 |  Merseyside


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